Western Turbine 2019 kicks off in Las Vegas only eight weeks from now. Register today!

Western Turbine Users Inc, the world’s largest independent organization of gas-turbine owner/operators, celebrates 29 years of service to the industry at its annual Conference and Expo, March 17 – 20, at the South Point Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas. The group, which serves owner/operators of GE aeroderivative engines (LM2500, LM5000, LM6000, LMS100), was last at this popular venue in 2017.

If you haven’t already registered, don’t delay. Visit the group’s website where you can sign up for the meeting and book your hotel room.  

When making your arrangements, think seriously about coming early. WTUI’s annual golf tournament on Sunday, this year at the prestigious Rhodes Ranch only 15 minutes or so from the South Point, is a fun time and an opportunity to socialize with colleagues before Chairman Chuck Casey gavels the meeting to order at 8 am Monday. Buses depart from the South Point lobby at 6:15; format is shotgun scramble. There are many prizes to hold your interest, even if you’re having an off day. The extra fee required for this event is payable when you register.

If the golf tourney is too early for you, there’s bowling starting at 10 am. And you don’t have to leave the hotel to participate. The South Point Bowling Center has 64 state-of-the-art Brunswick lanes. You must pre-register for this event as well.

Both social events conclude in plenty of time to shower and have something to eat before the “Welcome to WTUI/Conference Familiarization” session starts at 3:30. Attendance is especially recommended for all first timers. Indoctrination ends at 5:30 when the exhibit hall opens for three hours. There will be plenty of food and prizes to keep you engaged for the entire evening.

Monday morning you’ll hear from the authorized service providers (ASPs, formerly called “depots”) serving the GE aero fleets—Air New Zealand Gas Turbines, IHI, MTU, and TransCanada Turbines—as well as the OEM’s service team. Time limit on each of the presentations is 15 minutes, so there’s a lot to hear in a short period of time. You can get the details in the exhibition hall later in the day or on Tuesday. The booths of the ASPs and OEM are well staffed.

A Monday morning highlight is Consultant Mark Axford’s “Worldwide Gas Turbine Business Update.” Axford is well-known and -respected by, the Western Turbine community. His rapid-fire, fact-filled presentation on energy matters will review the headlines that made industry history in the past year; bring you up to date on fuel and electricity pricing and what might impact those numbers in the year ahead, such as subsidies for renewables; chart progress, or the lack thereof,  in energy-related technology development, batteries included; weigh the possible impacts of changes in OEM organizations; review the gas-turbine order book for 2018 and what the industry expects this year, etc.

Axford is best known for his market assessments, his predictions highly accurate over the years—uncanny might be a better descriptor. However, last year the consultant was way off his game. For 2017 he predicted US gas-turbine orders (units larger than 10 MW) would be up 10%, down 10% worldwide. The actual numbers were US down 36%, worldwide down 28%. Safe to say no one was predicting a market correction of this magnitude in 2017—at least publicly.

At last year’s meeting in Palm Springs, Axford predicted US orders would be down 10% in 2018 and down 10% (or more) worldwide. The Houston-based consultant carefully guards his predictions so you’ll have to attend his presentation at 10:45 in the South Coast Hotel’s Grand Ballroom to see how close he came to the actual numbers for 2018. Plus, you’ll get to hear his 2019 market predictions firsthand.

While Axford focuses on the aero market, Sal DellaVilla and his team at Strategic Power Systems® track the performance of engines in service, allowing owner/operators to benchmark their operations against the industry. The SPS® engineers and analysts will discuss the company’s findings during the breakout sessions. For a sneak peek at the results, read the companion article in this issue.

Engine breakout sessions begin Monday afternoon. Over the three days of the meeting, nine classroom hours are devoted to the operation and maintenance of each aero engine served by WTUI. Hands down this is the biggest bargain for the training of technicians responsible for LM2500, LM5000, LM6000, and LMS turbines. It’s where owner/operators get the nitty gritty on what might bite them next and how to avoid paying again for problems others have experienced and solved.

But everyone needs a break from the engine detail. That’s provided by Tuesday’s special technical presentations, where you’ll get an overview of other technologies vital to plant operation—generators and control systems, for example. This portion of the program consists of three one-hour sessions with each session providing a choice among three presentations conducted simultaneously in the Napa, Sonoma A/B, and Sonoma C/D meeting rooms.

Here’s the lineup of presentations in the first session from 2:30 to 3:30:

• Installation and removal of Ameriflex couplings.
• Ageing HRSG inspection and maintenance priorities.
• Aero Best Practices.

Second session from 3:30 to 4:30:

• Boro-blending technology and its capabilities.
• Generator maintenance and rotor pull.
• Reliability and maintainability of aero engines.

Third session from 4:30 to 5:30:

• Tunable diode laser for NH3 measurement.
• Online monitoring of stator endwinding vibrarion.
• Excel for daily reports and calculating simple KPIs.

Nominate your plant for a TICA award

The Turbine Inlet Cooling Assn will recognize, at the 2019 WTUI meeting in Las Vegas, turbine users/owners/operators that have demonstrated the successful implementation and use of at least one inlet cooling technology on a GE aero engine. One award will be given for each TIC technology, says Executive Director Dharam (Don) Punwani.

Enter your plant for consideration before February 4. Nominations will be evaluated using the following equally weighted criteria:

• Total number of turbines using TIC.
• Total increase in power (kilowatts) attributed to the TIC system.
• Percent increase in capacity provided by the TIC system.
• Year of installation, to gauge total benefit.
• Noteworthy/innovative details of the TIC system or in its use.

Details and entry form are available on the TICA website.

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